Sunday September 22, 2019

Vitamin A Deficiency In Children Reduces Immunity, WHO On Malnutrition

To fight this menace, we need to create sustainable, resilient food systems for healthy diets and ensure that social protection and nutrition-related education is available to all. 

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Children in the national capital may encounter stunted growth and become more vulnerable to diseases as more than a quarter of them under the age of five are underweight, a National Family Health Survey revealed on Tuesday.

According to data provided by the fourth edition of the survey, 27.3 per cent children in Delhi have an improper age-weight ratio, falling below the World Health Organization (WHO) standard, indicating the lack of nutrition in the diet they take.

“Our children require the best nutrition as they grow faster in this age and need proper nutrition for healthy growth. However, they are also the biggest sufferers due to lack of equal access to nutrition.

“Malnutrition is not just lack of food, it is a combination of factors like insufficient protein, energy and micronutrients, poor care and feeding practices, inadequate health services, frequent infections or disease, and poor water and sanitation.

child
Representational image showing a malnutrition ridden child.

“In the long term, it may impair the child’s physical and mental development,” said Raghuram Mallaiah, Director, Neonatology at New Delhi’s Fortis La Femme.

He added that inadequate nutrition may stunt a child’s growth, deprive him or her of essential vitamins and minerals, and make children more susceptible to infectious diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea, measles and can even cause death.

According to the WHO, malnutrition is the single biggest threat to global public health and causes nearly 45 per cent deaths of children aged under five years.

As per reports, malnutrition in children impacts their education as the degree of cognitive impairment is directly related to the severity of stunting and Iron Deficiency Anaemia (IDA).

Stunted children in the first two years of life usually have lower cognitive test scores, delayed enrolment, higher absenteeism and more class repetition compared with non-stunted children.

malnutrition in India
Malnutrition needs an end

Vitamin A deficiency in children reduces immunity and increases the incidence and gravity of infectious diseases that result in increased school absenteeism.

Underweight children are likely to be at a greater risk of premature death due to the negative impacts of undernourishment such as micronutrient deficiencies, poor immunity and susceptibility to infections.

Also Read: Protein Identified Enables New Drugs to Increase ‘Good Cholesterol’ Levels

“To fight this menace, we need to create sustainable, resilient food systems for healthy diets and ensure that social protection and nutrition-related education is available to all.

“We also need to align our health systems to the nutrition needs of children, ensuring that policies are devised to improve access to nutrition,” Mallaiah said.(IANS)

Next Story

By 2030, African Children to Make ‘Half of the World’s Poor’

African children are being left further and further behind and will make up more than half of the world’s poor by 2030

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Africa, Kids, Children, Poverty, Study
The United Nations reports more than a half million refugees have fled to neighboring countries to escape the ravages of war. Wikimedia Commons

African children are being left further and further behind and will make up more than half of the world’s poor by 2030, according to a new report.

The stark warning comes as more than 150 world leaders prepare to attend the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit in New York beginning Sept. 25 to work on tackling global poverty.

The United Nations has agreed on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). No. 1 on the list is eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. But the world will fall well short of that target, according to the report by Save the Children and the Overseas Development Institute, which delivers a devastating verdict on global efforts to eradicate extreme poverty among children in Africa.

“On our projection, children in Africa will account for around 55% of all extreme poverty in the world by 2030,” said Kevin Watkins, chief executive of Save the Children UK.

An estimated 87 million African children will be born into poverty each year in the 2020s, according to the report, which also says about 40% of Africans still live on less than $1.90 a day.

Africa, Kids, Children, Poverty, Study
Children recovering from malnutrition play at the Children hospital in Bangui, Central African Republic. VOA

“On average, women are still having four to five children, and it’s the part of the world where poverty is coming down most slowly, partly because of slow growth but also because of very high levels of inequality,” Watkins said. “A child born into poverty faces greater risks of illiteracy; greater risks of mortality before the age of 5. They’re between two and three times more likely to die before their fifth birthday. They are far less likely to escape poverty themselves, which means that they will become the transmission mechanism for poverty to another generation.”

The report criticizes African governments for failing to develop coherent policies, and also warns that the IMF, the World Bank and other donors are failing in their response.

ALSO READ: World is Decades Behind Schedule to Achieve Ambitious Goals to Fight Poverty, Inequality and Other Ills

Watkins said dramatic changes in approach are urgently needed.

“Transferring more monetary resources to children who are living in poverty has to be part of the solution,” Watkins said. “But we also know that money is not enough. It’s critically important that these children get access to basic nutritional services, the basic health interventions, and the school systems that they need to escape poverty.”

The report warns that if poverty reduction targets are not met, the world will also fall short on other sustainable development goals in education, health and gender equality. (VOA)